Hattiesburg Tornado Victims Still Need Help 6 Months Later - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Hattiesburg Tornado Victims Still Need Help 6 Months Later

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It's been just over six months since the Feb.10 tornado struck parts of the Pine Belt and there's still a lot of clean up left to do and victims to help. 

Restore, Rebuild, Recover South Mississippi, also known as R3SM, is a long-term recovery agency created by the United Way of Southeast Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

The agency teamed with Volunteer Hattiesburg to coordinate the rebuilding work for residents in need.

R3SM holds meetings every Tuesday to hear some of the cases submitted by families who were affected by the EF-4 twister.

"We started working immediately after the tornado, " said Sheila Varnado, R3SM executive director.

She said the Federal Emergency Management Agency along with Mississippi Emergency Management Agency gave them a list of about 1,600 who applied for assistance.

"They basically did a handoff to us as the long term recovery organization," she said.

Now six months later, they still have a long way to go.

"The committee has approved 56 repair cases to date out of the total of 315 that they've looked at," she said.

Case managers go out in the field and prepare presentations for unmet needs committee's weekly meetings. The committee then approves or dismisses a case.

"We want people to be restored back to where the were living their lives without this type of worry," said volunteer Marcia Line.

She said lot of the cases they hear are from people who don't have insurance, singe-parent homes, or are from the elderly.

"The tornado put them over the edge," she said.

Other committee members say they don't want the victims to be forgotten.

"It's going to take a lot of people pulling together to get the assistance that they need," said Karen Cooley, director of recovery services.

 

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  • Donesha Aldridge

    Donesha Aldridge

    I am a Digital Journalist here at WHLT. My earliest dreams about becoming a reporter started at 4-years-old. I can remember growing up as a child pretending to be an anchor and making my younger brother
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